1 Samuel 27:1, 2
And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul…

I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul (ver. 1). It is seldom (at least in a climate like ours) that a day passes in sunshine without clouds. And human life is as varied as the aspects of the sky. The best of men are liable not only to adversity as well as prosperity, but also to seasons of spiritual depression as well as of spiritual elation; and the one often follows the other very closely. These seasons of depression ought not, indeed, to be attributed to a Divine, sovereign, and uncontrollable influence. They are due to certain causes in men themselves which ought to be watched against. Yet who resists them constantly, effectually, and completely? Here is David, who recently said, "Let the Lord deliver me out of all tribulation," and heard Saul say, "Blessed be thou, my son David," etc. (1 Samuel 26:24, 25), talking to himself in a desponding mood, and coming to the conclusion that there is nothing better for him than to flee into the land of the Philistines. It may be preferable for a man to "commune with his own heart" of his fears and doubts, rather than pour them indiscriminately into the ears of other people; but his proper course is not to continue brooding over them, or surrender himself to their power, but to" inquire of the Lord," and "hope in God" (Psalm 42:11). "More of these no man hath known than myself, which I confess I conquered not in a martial posture, but on my knees" (Sir T. Browne). Concerning the state of mind which this language expresses, consider -


1. Fear of approaching danger. Saul bad renewed his persecution, and David thought that he should be "consumed." There was apparently no more reason why he should think so now than there had been before; but the desponding mind projects its shadow over all things, and magnifies ordinary into extraordinary peril. Imaginary evils are often occasions of greater trouble and temptation than real evils, and more difficult to overcome.

2. Distrust of Divine care. This is its chief element. If his faith had been in vigorous exercise he would have said, "Whom shall I fear?" (Psalm 27:1). But it seems to have completely failed, leaving him a prey to overwhelming anxiety and fear. "My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God" (Isaiah 40:27). "Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost" (Ezekiel 37:11).

3. Depression of personal energy. He has lost heart, and thinks it impossible to continue safely in the land of Judah, to which the prophet had formerly recalled him, and where Divine providence has appointed his lot. The fearful and faithless shrink from difficulties which in a better state of mind they encountered boldly.

II. WHEREBY IT IS OCCASIONED. The influences productive of it are partly -

1. External add physical. Numerous perils, long hardship, constant watchfulness, great exertions, bodily exhaustion and suffering. "There are hours in which physical derangement darkens the windows of the soul; days in which shattered nerves make life simply endurance." Much of this may be removed by the adoption of proper methods, and where its removal is impossible, special grace should be sought that it may be borne cheerfully and patiently.

2. Mental and emotional. Perplexing thoughts, conflicting arguments, unjust and ungenerous treatment, want of sympathy, deferred hope, reaction from excited feeling. "Something of it might be due to those alternations of emotion which seem to be incidental to our human constitution. We have ebbings and fiowings within us like the tides; and just as in nature the lowest ebb is after the highest spring tide, so you frequently see, even in the best of men, after some lofty experience of spiritual elevation and noble self-command, an ebbing down to the lowest depth of fear and flight" (W.M. Taylor).

3. Moral and spiritual. Omission of duty, parleying with temptation, contemplating doubtful expedients (1 Samuel 26:19), intimate association with persons of little or no piety, self-confidence, bedimmed spiritual vision, loss of spiritual fervour, "restraining prayer before God." It is significant that nothing is said about David's asking counsel of the Lord concerning the step which he was contemplating, as he did on other occasions. "Josephus tells us that he advised with his friends, but no writer informs us that he advised with God" (Delany). His state of mind appears to have been unfavourable to his doing so; and it is probable that if he had done so the course on which he had half resolved would have been forbidden. Communion with God prevents or cures despondency and averts many a disastrous step.

III. WHEREFORE IT IS BLAMEWORTHY. For that it is so there can be no doubt. In it -

1. Past deliverances effected by God are ungratefully forgotten. Of these David had experienced many; they were assurances of continued help, and in better hours he regarded them as such (1 Samuel 17:37). But now his remembrance of them is clouded with 'fear, and produces neither thankfulness nor confidence. He speaks to his heart, but says not, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."

2. The faithful promises of God are faithlessly ignored. He who doubts them despises the Giver, deprives himself of the treasures of wisdom, strength, and blessedness which they contain, and "forsakes his own mercy."

3. The great name of God is greatly dishonoured. It is a "strong tower," and not to "run into it," but to continue in despondency, as if it were inaccessible or incapable of affording adequate protection, is to oppose the purpose for which it is made known, to act unworthily of the knowledge of it, and to incur just reproach. "Who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of a man that shall die, and forgettest the Lord thy Maker?" (Isaiah 51:13). Surely nothing dishonours him more.

IV. WHERETO IT LEADS. "And David arose," etc. (ver. 2). He thought nothing could be better for him; but, in reality, nothing could be worse. "For by this step he would alienate the affections of the Israelites from him, justify the reproaches of the enemy, deprive himself of the means of grace and the ordinances of religion, grieve his soul with the vice and idolatry of the heathen, put himself out of the warrant of Divine protection, and lay himself under peculiar obligation to those whom he could not serve without betraying the cause of God." He escaped from one danger only to rush into another and much greater. Unbelieving and desponding fears commonly -

1. Incite to unwise and foolish courses of action.

2. Conduce to temptation and transgression (ver. 10).

3. Involve in embarrassment and great distress (1 Samuel 28:1; 1 Samuel 30:1-5).

"Beware of desperate steps. The darkest day,
Live till tomorrow, will have passed away."

(Cowper, 'The Needless Alarm.') Exhortation: -

1. Guard against the causes of despondency.

2. At its first approach turn instantly to God in faith and prayer.

3. Take no new step under its influence, nor until the will of God is clearly seen.

4. "Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might." - D.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand.

WEB: David said in his heart, "I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul will despair of me, to seek me any more in all the borders of Israel. So shall I escape out of his hand."

David's Fear and Folly
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